AIMS: Cancer patients often present with psychological symptoms that affect their quality of life, physical health outcomes and survival. Two of the most frequent psychiatric comorbidities are anxiety and depression. However, the prevalence of these disorders among cancer patients remains unclear, as studies frequently report varying rates. In the present study, we aimed to provide robust point estimates for the prevalence of anxiety and depression for both a mixed cancer sample and for 13 cancer types separately, considering confounding variables.
METHODS: In a sample of 7509 cancer outpatients (51.4% female), we used the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale to assess rates of anxiety and depression. Applying ordinal logistic regression models, we compared the prevalence of anxiety and depression between different cancer types, controlling for age and gender.
RESULTS: About one third of our sample showed symptoms of anxiety (35.2%) or depression (27.9%), and every sixth patient had a very likely psychiatric condition, with women being more frequently affected. Elderly patients more often showed signs of depression. The prevalence of anxiety and depression was significantly higher in lung and brain cancer patients, than in other cancer patients. Lowest depression rates were found in breast cancer patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of anxiety and depression is high in cancer patients. Type of cancer is an important predictor for anxiety and depressive symptoms, with lung and brain cancer patients being highly burdened. Considering a personalised medicine approach, physicians should take into account the high prevalence of psychiatric comorbidities and include psychiatric consultations in the treatment plan.